One of the biggest issues I’ve found in breaking addictions is what to replace the addicted action with. It’s easy to stop watching YouTube, the hard part is to figure out what to do once you have. I think this is one of the insidious issues that has arisen from digital platforms drive to create addiction based activities. When you start scrolling through a facebook feed, or start watching YouTube videos you don’t think much about it. You take a few minutes, consume some content, and then go back to something else. But as those few minutes turn into half an hour, or an hour or much more it’s easy to lose sight of the things that you have stopped doing.
Whether you used to read books, walk your dog, or even just clean your house those actions fall by the way side as you spend ever more time staring at the screen. If you decide to stop staring at the screen you are confronted with a profound emptiness that seems to make no sense. It’s so easy to overlook the value of a morning walk, reading a few chapters while you sip some coffee, or simply do a bit of weeding in the flower bed. When those actions were part of your daily life you barely even thought of them, but once YouTube, Facebook or Twitch has sucked you in it’s hard to remember that they were something you did.
For myself one thing I started doing to help break the YouTube addiction was to take a morning walk. After breakfast I take a mile and a half stroll. I live in a pretty neighborhood so it’s enjoyable to see the flowers bloom, and the deer, foxes and other wild life run around. Oddly enough for an exurban neighborhood I run into many of my neighbors and end up chatting many days about dogs, and geese and what not. The hour away from my desk gives me time to ponder what I want to talk or write about for the day. And it feels good to see the iPhone pedometer tack on that extra mile and a half of walking that has to of had some input to the eighteen pounds I’ve lost so far this year.
When I talk about things it’s very easy to to misinterpret melodramatics with exaggeration. As someone who makes a living off of being entertaining it’s vital for me to be melodramatic. I have to be exciting, vivacious, and in your face. I am very cognizant of not lying though. I genuinely try my best to not exaggerate because at the moment I take my argument too far people end up dismissing everything I have said before. I really do see YouTube, Facebook, and many other platforms as addictions. It’s not about simply wasting time. It’s about systems specifically designed to draw you in. Systems that dynamically change so as to keep you coming back even when you want to leave. I think about when I logged out of Instagram and I received emails telling me to see who took new pictures. Then when I deleted the app on my phone Instagram started texting me to get me to come back. The only thing the platforms seem to care about is taking more of your time. Does anyone ask what the cost is when your time is sucked away to these platforms? Who cares about the small price of not weeding your flower beds, or not taking a morning stroll, or not reading as many books, or… but what is the price of losing all of these things together?
With no exaggeration I HATE much of the modern startup and tech world. The entire circus has been designed about buying and selling people’s souls with little regard as to what that means for the greater society. But I’m finding though… that a nice morning stroll does wonders for relieving stress, and reminding me how vacuous the platforms really are. (I’ll take a chat with my neighbor about the Canadian geese crapping on her front lawn over 1000 facebook “friends” yabbering about Roseanne’s latest Tweets.)